12 “And [the reward for] the act of tzedakah will be peace, and [the reward for] the service of tzedakah [will be] quietness and surety forever.”1

יב "וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם, וַעֲבוֹדַת הַצְּדָקָה הַשְׁקֵט וָבֶטַח עַד עוֹלָם".

Some commentaries explain that “act” (מַעֲשֵׂה) and “service” (עֲבוֹדָה) are one and the same; the verse merely reiterates the same theme in different words. Targum Yonatan, however, writes that “act” and “service” indicate two different forms of charity: the reward for the “act” of tzedakah is peace; the reward for the “service” of tzedakah is eternal quietness and surety.

The difference between [the] “act” and “service” of tzedakah, and the difference between the rewards of “peace” and “quietness and surety,” will be understood

לְהָבִין הַהֶפְרֵשׁ שֶׁבֵּין "מַעֲשֶׂה" לַ"עֲבוֹדָה" וּבֵין "שָׁלוֹם" לְ"הַשְׁקֵט וָבֶטַח" כוּ'.

by what our Sages, of blessed memory, said on the verse, “He makes peace in His high places”2:

עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה עַל פָּסוּק "עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו" –

“Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire, yet they do not extinguish one another.”3

כִּי "מִיכָאֵל שַׂר שֶׁל מַיִם וְגַבְרִיאֵל שַׂר שֶׁל אֵשׁ, וְאֵין מְכַבִּין זֶה אֶת זֶה".

Though water seeks to quench fire and fire endeavors to vaporize water, and “Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire,” nevertheless, they do not extinguish one another.

This means to say, not that Michael’s substance derives from the spiritual element of water and Gabriel’s substance derives from the spiritual element of fire, but that


Michael is the prince of chesed (“kindness”),

שֶׁמִּיכָאֵל שַׂר שֶׁל חֶסֶד,

which is called “water,” because it descends from a high place to a low place.

הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "מַיִם", הַיּוֹרְדִים מִמָּקוֹם גָּבוֹהַּ לְמָקוֹם נָמוּךְ,

In spiritual terms, this [descent] means: the bestowal and diffusion of the [Divine] life-force from the higher to the lower worlds.

וְהוּא בְּחִינַת הַהַשְׁפָּעָה וְהִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת הַחַיּוּת מֵעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים לְתַחְתּוֹנִים,

Fire, whose nature is to soar aloft, represents spiritually the thrust of gevurah (“severity”), and the upward withdrawal of the flow of life-force,

וּבְחִינַת אֵשׁ שֶׁטִּבְעָהּ לַעֲלוֹת לְמַעְלָה, הִיא בְּחִינַת הַגְּבוּרָה וְהִסְתַּלְּקוּת הַשְׁפָּעַת הַחַיִּים מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה,

in order not to bestow [it] except by way of an intense and immense contraction.

שֶׁלֹּא לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ, רַק בְּצִמְצוּם עָצוּם וְרַב,

Now these attributes are in conflict, chesed representing unlimited effusion, and gevurah representing limitation and contraction,

וְהֵן מִדּוֹת נֶגְדִּיּוֹת וְהָפְכִּיּוֹת זוֹ לָזוֹ,

but only when they are in their pristine state as attributes.

וְהַיְינוּ כְּשֶׁהֵן בִּבְחִינַת מִדּוֹת לְבַדָּן.

Inasmuch as the attributes are inherently limited (and indeed, the very word middah means “measure”), each of them is confined to its innate characteristics, chesed to expansiveness, gevurah to withdrawal.